A lady recently asked me in passing if I was religious. And I knew exactly what she meant when she asked, so I answered, “No.” But to tell you the truth, it’s kind of been bugging me ever since.
What she meant was do I regularly go to services and partake in the rituals and traditions of the faith in which I was raised. She wanted to know if I was a “believer” in the way people use that word to align themselves with a particular sect or as “a person of faith.”
The truth is I am both a person of faith as well as a believer in God, neither of which has anything to do with religion. And my desire to sift through the real answer to the nice lady’s question is not so much a need to justify as it is a desire to give voice to those of us whose journey has brought us to this place and time, appreciating where we came from, respecting those still choosing to remain there, while acknowledging where we are now.
There is, at our core, the place where we know. We know what is true. We know what aligns with our very being, what our soul recognizes as being a reflection of our Creator, our Source, God. We know. We may try to suppress, pretend, deny, ignore, or change it, but at the core of our being, we know what we know.
We are ever-evolving expressions of divinity. And to that end, I believe that life is a journey of becoming more and more ourselves, of who we are uniquely created to be, every day until our last in this form.
My belief system (for the nice lady who asked about my religiosity) can best be summed up in one word: love.
Use it as a noun. Use it as a verb. Use it as a dangling something or other. Take it as a suggestion, a directive, a commandment, whatever. It is not for the faint of heart. It requires bringing the best of ourselves to the playing field of our lives. It is both simple and complex simultaneously. It demands forgiveness. It requires courage. It exists in truth. It is bigger than our pettiness, accepts us just as we are. It cannot be won or lost. It is the eternal “enough.”
This is what I both know and believe. And so how do we go from that to redemption and resurrection?
This is a holy week, both for Christians and Jews the world over.
Jews are celebrating Passover, retelling the story of going from slavery to redemption. But what does that mean and how does it apply today?
To avoid grappling with those questions is to make the retelling just a nice story of days gone by. Never mind that the literal definition of slavery exists today in every corner of the globe, including our own, largely in the form of human trafficking. So let’s not pretend that slavery is a thing of the distant past just because it doesn’t happen to appear like it did in the movie The Ten Commandments.
Slavery is not just about people as chattel, though. I once heard a TV preacher say, “That which we make a God other than God, we become a slave to.” And we do that all the time with our careers and with every type of technology.
Short of a tornado touching down on your rooftop, what do you really need to know from a 24 hour news channel at 3am? What job outside of doctor, paramedic, fire, or police really requires the immediacy of our attention? What TV show or Facebook post trumps an actual conversation? (I mean, of course, with the exception of those posts with babies or puppies, because who doesn’t love a baby or a puppy? Sociopaths, that’s who. And I say that with all the love in my heart for sociopaths.)
We’re looking for validation as our form of redemption, but it will never be found in getting enough votes to survive the week on American Idol. Our redemption will never come from the criticism we exact upon each other. It will only come from how willing we are to liberate each other from the bonds of judgment in favor of tolerance and acceptance.
Wow, all of a sudden I feel like I’m giving a speech in D.C. instead of brushing off matzoh crumbs in New York.
So on to Easter, that holiday which celebrates the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is no secret that I’m a big fan of Jesus, much as my Jewish family and friends are squirming right now, and making hissing sounds…or possibly waiting for that bolt of lightning to strike me dead. Hard to say which of these, really.
Jesus walked the earth as the embodiment of unconditional love. He was a Jew, yes, but he was an outcast among them, too. He knew his truth, he spoke his truth, and he lived his truth until the very end. He loved those who hated him, forgave those who betrayed him. What is there not to love about that?
That he was crucified and rose from the dead is more than just a telling of the story. The power and relevancy in that story for us today is what it symbolizes.
We crucify ourselves and each other in ways big and small every day. What is it we need to forgive ourselves for, and how would our lives be different if we did? What dreams do we need to resurrect? What parts of ourselves do we need to bring back from the dead? This is the season of rebirth. We must know that what is of real value is never lost, even to death. I think that is the point of the story.
So whatever your religion or your faith, I hope you celebrate it in the fullness of its beauty. I hope this season finds you surrounded by love, in the company of family and friends, and in gratitude for both that which you seek and that which you already know.
Thanks for stopping by. Peace and blessings to you always.